Atomberg: Cooling Off the Energy Crisis
One of the most pressing and debated dialogues in the realm of energy conservation and sustainability has been the paucity of electricity, the imperativeness to preserve it, and the prudence to utilize it cautiously. Judicious usage, despite eliminating reckless wastage, cannot guarantee self-sufficiency, especially in a developing country like ours, as consumption escalates and industrial progression scales up. To subdue this concern, a groundbreaking disruption in the energy field is essential, which is exactly where the two IIT-B graduates Manoj Meena and Sibabrata Das discovered the potential and prospect of establishing their ingenious startup Atomberg in 2012.
Since its almost unmanageable to minimize the electricity demands in this computer & electronics’ driven world, Manoj and Sibabrata brought a revolution in the electronics market when they brought in a ceiling fan (an appliance which has not seen much innovation in the past 40-50 years) that uses less than half the power to operate at its highest speed than a normal ceiling fan. To quote Ashok Toshniwal (CEO, Universal Instrument Manufacturing) “They knocked off the efficiency of a conventional ceiling fan by a remarkable percentage as compared to a regular fan which is conventionally available.”
Having a keen interest in robotics and electronics since the college days, Manoj, the founder and the CEO of Atomberg, obtained his dual degree in Electrical engineering with a specialization in communication and signal processing in 2011. His fellow co-founder Sibabrata graduated the following year with a bachelor’s in Civil engineering and worked as a field engineer in a couple of firms before collaborating with Manoj in 2015.
With the determination to launch his own brand having germinated in his mind right back in his third year, Manoj strived to make his mark in the startup world despite getting the prestigious job offer letter from ISRO, yet failing to do so until Atomberg happened. The motivation to kick off the company occurred to Manoj in the most ordinary of settings, born out of tardiness and lethargy. Once, having come back from work with a friend totally drained and exhausted, he fell on the bed to relax but forgot to switch on the fan. Being too weary and fatigued to reach for the switch, he contemplated the convenience a remote-controlled fan would bring to their current predicament, which served as the “Eureka” moment to develop one.
In order to inculcate the signal sensing power in the fan, Manoj had to decrease the heating in the coils, hence making the fan more efficient. For the first three years, the company was bootstrapped in a project mode under SINE-IITB (Society for Innovation Entrepreneurship), developing data acquisition, motor control, and process control systems for IITs, ISRO, DRDO, and other research labs. However, the company started to scale up in 2015, when the duo focused their attention to consumer products from B2B, and created their first prototype. They designed India’s most energy-efficient ceiling fan, Gorilla, using high-quality super-efficient BLDC motors (brushless DC motor) consuming just 28W, where the majority of other ceiling fans consumed 75-80W. They achieved so by cleverly engineering a controller to drive the BLDC (as a replacement to conventional induction motors) fans without sensors, by just measuring the back emf and coil inductance.
Reviving a sector that had been lying dormant since the past half-century, Atomberg also attracted handsome funding from multiple investors such as raising $10 million from Desai & Dewanji, a $1.5 million investment from IDFC Parampara and $500k from the Hero Group. Having annual revenues in million dollars just shy of double digits, the company now aims to conquer over 10% of the premium market share (that currently holds 15% of the market) in the next 2-3 years. Benefitting from the Make In India program and the hardware+IoT startup ecosystem boom, Atomberg will also be diversifying its product pipeline based on the BLDC technology to include categories like mixer grinder, air coolers, electric vehicles, etc. It also intends to proliferate the lesser income bracket consumers and scale the operations through e-commerce via retailers like Amazon and Flipkart. The RnD of the company actively explores the incorporation of new materials to save power costs, and the development of IoT enabled fans compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
Atomberg has witnessed a staggering 300% year on year growth over the last three years and displays no signs of slowing down with the founders optimistic of selling over half a million units this financial year alone, and eyeing a 33% share in the premium market in the next half-decade. Despite being priced a bit higher than an average fan, the Gorilla has found traction even with the non-metro cities owing to better power savings, increased lifetime of the fans, and better consumer services. Furthermore, the Gorilla fans are progressively being preferred by the big industrial players like ITC, Infosys, Tata, Aditya Birla, BEL, Indian Railways, etc. to cut costs and ensure a more environment-friendly operation model. To that end, Atomberg has contributed towards saving more than 100GWh of electricity and 50,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
To add to its accolades, Atomberg Technology became the global winner for the energy-efficient category at the cleantech global open forum held in Silicon-Valley, California in February 2017. Triumphs like the ‘Global Cleantech Award’ by United Nations, ‘Champions of Change’ recognition by the Niti Aayog, WWF Climate Solver, National Entrepreneurship Award, Forbes 30 under 30, etc. are the consequences of their efforts and hard work they have put in to raise their company to become a million-dollar asset. Furthermore, in 2019, the institute presented the co-founder Manoj with the Young Alumnus Achiever Award.
The founders of the company desire their start-up to reach the pinnacle and they aspire it to be the Tesla of household appliances by dominating the smart, energy-efficient and connected household appliance segment. Atomberg Technology, in that regard, competes with Crompton Greaves Consumer Electricals, Hi-Rel Electronics, and Godrej Industries in the global market.
With an impressive growth curve, the company has indeed come a long way towards solving the tradeoffs between luxury, efficiency, and quality. Due to their huge success in the electronics market, Atomberg has set up an example that every growing startup can look up to, i.e to build a scalable and commercial product that rewards the consumer, the market and the environment, a true disruption in every sense of the word. We wish them the very best for their future endeavors.